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Virginia Politics Blog: April 4, 2010 - April 10, 2010

Mullins joins a majority of state GOP chairmen in backing Steele as RNC leader

Most state Republican Party chairmen, including Pat Mullins of Virginia, have signed a letter supporting Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele who has come under fire in recent weeks. The letter is signed by 29 state committees and those in Guam and the District. "With over $100 million raised, victories in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, and victories in 29 of 37 special elections, Michael Steele has demonstrated that under his chairmanship the RNC has the ability, focus, and drive to lead Republicans to a sweeping victory in November," according to the letter. Steele has seen his share of several controversies lately, most recently in financial reports that showed his party used donor dollars for luxe hotels, private jets and other questionable expenditures. Mullins condemned the RNC's latest controversy -- revelations that the RNC spent nearly $2,000 at a sex-themed Hollywood nightclub -- but told our colleague Amy Gardner that...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 10, 2010; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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Boucher vs. Griffith: The war over money

The congressional race in southwest Virginia's 9th District has finally started in earnest and here's where they stand when it comes to the all-important money game. U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher (D) has nearly $2 million in the bank while his likely Republican challenger, Morgan Griffith, majority leader in the state House of Delegates, has $104,000, according to new finance reports that will be filed next week. Yes, that's some disparity. But there's a couple ways you can look at those numbers. On the one hand, Griffith is going to have a hard time catching up to Boucher, a 28-year incumbent who essentially had a $1.7 million headstart when Griffith jumped into the race in February. On the other hand, Griffith didn't do too bad -- raising $104,000 in a two-week period last month while Boucher raised $317,199 in the full-three month fundraising period from Jan. 1 to March 31. (Griffith...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 9, 2010; 6:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Anita Kumar , Election 2010 , Rick Boucher  
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Plum calls on McDonnell to remove original Confederate History Month proclamation from Web site

Del. Ken Plum, the Democratic caucus chairman in the House of Delegates, isn't satisfied with Gov. Bob McDonnell's amendment of his Confederate History Month proclamation to include slavery. Plum is calling on McDonnell to ask the Sons of Confederate Veterans to post the new version of the proclamation on their Web site. The group still has up the old version up, which has no reference to slavery as the cause of the Civil War. "The Governor's work on making amends for the thoughtless and hurtful proclamation issued from his office is not done until he rescinds the original proclamation and asks that it no longer be displayed,'' Plum said. "We cannot have people believing that the Governor with a wink and a nod is trying to appease all people with both versions of the Proclamation. It's no wonder that Virginians are confused, given McDonnell's initial defense and subsequent apology for...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 9, 2010; 3:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Jon Stewart pokes fun at Virginia -- again

After a week in which President Obama, Jesse Jackson and a host of other national figures weighed in on Gov. Bob McDonnell's Confederate History Month proclamation, you just knew that comedian Jon Stewart would too. Last night, the William & Mary graduate had a bit of fun at Virginia's expense on the Daily show. Check out the clip on the Comedy Central Web site. (Warning: contains a rather graphic interaction between images of Jon Stewart and the new College of William and Mary mascot.)...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 9, 2010; 1:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Updated: Obama said McDonnell made an 'unacceptable omission' in leaving slavery out of proclamation

President Obama said that Gov. Bob McDonnell made "an unacceptable omission" when he declared April Confederate History Month without including mention of slavery. "I don't think you can understand the Confederacy and the Civil War unless you understand slavery," said Obama, the nation's first black president, in an interview with ABC News on Thursday in Prague. "I think it's just a reminder that when we talk about issues like slavery that are so fraught with pain and emotion, that, you know, we, we'd better do so thinking through how this is going to affect a lot of people. And their sense of whether they're part of a commonwealth or part of our broader society." McDonnell said he originally issued a proclamation that left out any reference to slavery because he wanted to include issues he thought were most "significant" to Virginia. He also said the document was designed to promote...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 9, 2010; 11:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Family Foundation lobbies McDonnell on abortion, stem cell research

With less a week until Gov. Bob McDonnell's deadline to amend the state budget, the Family Foundation has launched an all-out blitz to convince him not to spend tax dollars on Planned Parenthood, elective abortions and stem cell research. The conservative statewide organization sent out 11,000 emails and more than 5,000 mailers to supporters this week urging them to call or write McDonnell. McDonnell could include amendments to the budget that prevent tax dollars from being spent on embryonic stem cell research, elective abortion and Planned Parenthood....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 9, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Johnson 'heartened' by McDonnell's amendment of Confederate History Month proclamation

Sheila Johnson, one of Gov. Bob McDonnell's top African American supporters and the wealthy co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, issued a statement today saying that she was heartened by Gov. Bob McDonnell's apology for not including slavery in Confederate History Month. "I am heartened by the Governor's response, his amendment to the Proclamation and his acknowledgment that the brutality and legacy of slavery can never be forgotten or brushed aside," Johnson wrote. Your Browser DoesNot Support IFrames. Johnson had initially condemned the proclamation, which called for Virginians to "understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War." Johnson, a Democrat, was one of McDonnell's biggest supporters last year on the campaign trail. She even came to his defense when some questioned his commitment to women's rights after the publication of his 1989 graduation school thesis in which he wrote that working women...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 8, 2010; 4:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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National implications for McDonnell's Confederate proclamation?

The Fix's Chris Cillizza has been talking to national strategists about whether Gov. Bob McDonnell's Confederate History Month proclamation and subsequent apology for leaving out mention of slavery puts him out of contention as a national candidate. "It's a lasting scar mainly for its combination of stupidity, insensitivity and ignorance about the Civil War," one senior Republican strategist told Cillizza. "Sixty days and it's ancient history," said another. McDonnell has long denied national ambitions, but that hasn't stopped the political pundits from repeatedly naming him as a national prospect. Read more here....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 8, 2010; 12:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell  
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Think tanks battle about which jobs are at risk in state budget

The head of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy has issued a formal reponse to an analysis of the Virginia state budget released last month by the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis that had argued that budget cuts would cost the state 37,000 public and private sector jobs. In a column released today, Michael W. Thompson, president of the more right-leaning group, argues the Commonwealth Institute failed to weigh potential job losses connected to budget cuts against job losses that would have occurred if the government had raised taxes to close the state's budget shortfall. And he argues that the state workforce loses 8 to 10 percent of its workers each year, meaning the impact of those lost jobs can be ameliorated by not replacing employees who leave voluntarily....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 8, 2010; 11:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Timing of Cuccinelli's PAC questioned by Democrats

A new political action committee established by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has drawn fire from state Democrats over the date it was established. Paperwork to establish Cuccinelli's new Liberty Now PAC was filed with the Virginia State Board of Elections on March 23. That's the same day President Obama signed the health care reform bill into law. And the same day Cuccinelli filed suit on behalf of Virginia against the law, arguing Congress exceeded its Constitutional power in requiring individuals to purchase health insurance. Democrats say the timing is a sign that Cuccinelli's suit was intended to be a fundraising tool to raise money for Liberty Now. Cuccinelli's office said the timing of the filing was coincidental and plans for the PAC had been laid well before Health Care day....

By Washington Post editors  |  April 8, 2010; 10:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli  
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Director of affordable housing group resigns

The executive director of a Washington-area affordable housing group implicated in a forgery scheme has resigned, and Fairfax County officials appear to be easing off plans to shut out the nonprofit from obtaining future government contracts.

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 7, 2010; 6:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Derek Kravitz , Fairfax County  
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McDonnell issues thorough apology for leaving slavery out of proclamation

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) apologized late Wednesday for failing to include slavery in his proclamation declaring April as Confederate History Month. The full text of his statement follows: Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement today regarding the proclamation of Confederate History Month in the Commonwealth "The proclamation issued by this Office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission. The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed. The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War. Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation. In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly approved a formal statement of "profound...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  April 7, 2010; 6:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (184)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Top McDonnell supporter condemns governor for Confederate History Month

Sheila Johnson, one of Gov. Bob McDonnell's top African American supporters and the wealthy co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, condemned him for declaring April Confederate History Month. McDonnell (R) left out anti-slavery language in the seven-paragraph declaration that called for Virginians to "understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War." "I must condemn Governor McDonnell's Proclamation honoring 'Confederate History Month,' and its insensitive disregard of Virginia's complicated and painful history, the remnants of which many Virginians still wrestle with today,'' Johnson wrote in a statement. "The complete omission of slavery from an official government document, which purports to be a call for Virginians to 'understand' and 'study' their history, is both academically flawed and personally offensive. If Virginians are to celebrate their 'shared history,' as this proclamation suggests, then the whole truth of this history must be recognized and not evaded."...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 7, 2010; 4:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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UPDATED: Whipple takes McDonnell criticism national

Democratic State Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (Arlington) appeared on MSNBC this afternoon to discuss Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's decision to issue a proclamation in honor of Confederate History Month. Lately, it largely has been Virginia's Republicans who have been snagging national television appearances. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been on pretty much every channel talking health care. We're betting McDonnell is in high demand today. But now Democrats are getting into action as well. Whipple said the resolution was "very troubling" by McDonnell's move. Watch her appearance below. UPDATE 5:35 p.m.: Another sign this story has gone national. Former Virginia Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine has now weighed in. In a statement, he said: "Governor McDonnell's decision to designate April as Confederate History Month without condemning, or even acknowledging, the pernicious stain of slavery or its role in the war disregards history, is insensitive to the extraordinary...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 7, 2010; 3:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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Updated: Virginia governor's mansion to be a new venue for fundraisers

Last year, then-Gov. Tim Kaine abruptly canceled a Democratic fundraiser at the Executive Mansion in part because of concerns that it was to take place at a once-sacred venue. Traditionally, Virginia governors have not used the mansion to raise money, though no state law prohibits it. But just last week, Gov. Bob McDonnell held his first fundraiser at the mansion, hosting a reception for the 40 or so people who pledged $1,000 or more to Richmond's soon-to-be-opened charter school. (The school picked up the tab.) Clearly, the goal was different -- Kaine canceled a reception after he discovered that the event's organizers were advertising it as a fundraiser for the Farm Team, a political action committee formed to help Democratic women seek elected office, while McDonnell was helping Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts, a nonprofit organization he strongly supports. But the question remains: Will the mansion be a...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 7, 2010; 1:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Other states vary on Confederate History Month proclamations

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has issued a proclamation declaring April Confederate History Month. How some other Southern states have dealt with this issue.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 7, 2010; 11:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Fairfax survey finds fewer homeless people

The number of homeless people in Fairfax County has fallen by almost 11 percent since last year, according to a one-day survey made public Tuesday.

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 6, 2010; 1:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Derek Kravitz , Fairfax County  
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Despite previous governors' refusals, McDonnell issues Confederate history month proclamation

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has quietly declared April 2010 Confederate History Month, bringing back a designation in Virginia that his two Democratic predecessors -- Mark Warner and Tim Kaine -- refused to do. Republican governors George Allen and Jim Gilmore issued similar proclamations. But in 2002, Warner broke with their action, calling such proclamations, a "lightning rod" that does not help bridge divisions between whites and blacks in Virginia. This year's proclamation was requested by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. A representative of the group said the group has known since it interviewed McDonnell when he was running for attorney general in 2005 that he was likely to respond differently than Warner or Kaine. "We've known for quite some time we had a good opportunity should he ascend the governorship," Brandon Dorsey said. "We basically decided to bide our time and wait until we had more favorable politicians in Richmond."...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 6, 2010; 1:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1117)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell withdraws from wind energy coalition

Gov. Bob McDonnell said this week that he recently withdrew his support from the Governors' Wind Energy Coalition after the group sent out a letter expressing support for a national renewable electricity standard with his name without his permission. "They sent out a letter with my name on it that I didn't approve, never saw. That's the problem,'' McDonnell said. "Secondly, the contents of the letter said that all the governors that were signatories were supportive of a mandatory (renewable energy standard) that I am not. So that's the problem." U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar met Atlantic Coast governors in February to talk about wind energy and McDonnell joined his wind energy consortium. "I really want to pursue wind energy,'' McDonnell said. "I think it's a great option for us here in Virginia. We have some of the highest quality winds anywhere in the country. Virginia Beach is supportive of...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 6, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell rooting for Butler, backs Obama on White Sox cap

You know it's a slow news day when the governor gets sports questions during a gaggle with reporters. But Gov. Bob McDonnell is a well known sports fan, particularly of his beloved Notre Dame and Redskins football teams, and so when there's big news in the sporting world, it's a safe bet he's got an opinion. After a bill signing this afternoon, Julian Walker of the Virginian-Pilot asked McDonnell what he and his wife (don't forget Maureen McDonnell is a former Redskins cheerleader) thought of the Redskins' hiring of Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb. McDonnell laughed. "I was really hoping they'd get my favorite Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen. I think he's got a lot of potential to turn the Redskins around." He added: "I've been a 35-year Redskins fan--I just want them to win. Whoever's playing quarterback." Since it's a big day in sports, we decided to follow up with...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  |  April 5, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Virginia shocker: McDonnell opts not to resign

Not surprisingly Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said today that he has opted not to resign in response to a letter from an anti-government group last week demanding that he resign within three days or face removal from office. "I have opted not to resign even though they have given that option to all 50 governors,'' he joked with reporters. In all seriousness, McDonnell said the letter from the group, Guardians of the Free Republics to most of the nation's governors was "very disappointing." "There are people on all parts of the political spectrum that are doing some things that are not reflective of the highest ideals of American democracy -- threats, actual acts of violence against members of Congress, governors,'' he said. "Our solutions are at the ballot box and in the legislature. That's the way we do thing in America." The demands come after an outbreak of harassment and...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 5, 2010; 3:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Will Marshall run for U.S. Senate in Va. again?

Del. Bob Marshall, who almost beat former governor Jim Gilmore for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in 2008, is considering a run for U.S. Senate in 2012, several sources tell us. In his first run for statewide office, Marshall was outspent by nearly 8 to 1. But a coalition of antiabortion and anti-tax activists, libertarians and some moderate Republicans from Northern Virginia backed Marshall over Gilmore, who won the nomination by less than one percentage point. Democrat Mark Warner handily defeated Gilmore. Marshall, one of the most conservative legislators and a staunch opponent of abortion rights, acknowledged today that "a lot of people" have asked him to run but that right now he's concentrating on state issues. He said he plans to run for re-election for his Prince William County seat in the House of Delegates next year. George Allen, the former Republican governor and senator, continues to stay...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 5, 2010; 1:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , George F. Allen , James Gilmore III , James Webb  
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Warner to speak to Connecticut Democrats next week

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner is heading home to Connecticut next week. Virginia's junior senator will deliver the keynote speech Monday at the Connecticut Democratic party's biggest fundraiser -- the Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner -- at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Tickets for the event range from $175 to $500. Warner was born in Indiana but mostly grew up in Connecticut -- the Hartford suburb of Vernon. He was class president at Rockville High School for three years. "Senator Warner agreed to return home for this speech on the strict condition that he will not -- repeat, NOT -- have to play basketball against the unbeaten UCONN women's team," quipped Warner's spokesman Kevin Hall....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 5, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Mark Warner  
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